Thursday, 29 September 2011

Ten Fathom Pirates

The first proper story in Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space is called Ten Fathom Pirates, and in it Dr Who meets the most fabulous pirates ever (except maybe for these pirates).

This is a story about Dr Who from Dr. Who and the Daleks and Daleks' Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. and I can tell because he is always called "Dr Who" in the story, not "the Doctor," even though in the pictures he looks like the Doctor as played by William Hartnell.

Tardis lands underwater and Dr Who is grumpy about it. He doesn't have anybody with him in Tardis so he talks to himself, or maybe he is talking to Tardis, or maybe to me when I'm reading the story? I don't know.

"Still, in all his strange journeys there was bound to come one moment in a thousand when his space-ship would emerge from intra-dimensional non-space into a planetary environment occupied by water."

Is "intra-dimensional non-space" the opposite of space? Terry Nation would know these things. Dr Who uses his scanner to see what is outside. He sees fish (nom nom nom) and then he sees a group of mannys swimming towards Tardis.

"For a fleeting moment he wondered if they were fishermen. But he rejected the thought as he recalled the true fishermen, such as those he had encountered on the planet Kandalinga."

I think mannys would need to be able to hold their breath for a long time on Kandalinga. To catch fish I mean. These mannys that Dr Who sees sound very fabulous to me, because "they were garishly attired in rubber suits of multi-colours, but their faces were un-covered and he could see the features of hard-bitten men of action."

Oooooh. I like these mannys already. Their leader is "a powerfully-built man with a black moustache," I think he sounds handsome. Multi-coloured with a moustache, who am I reminded of?

They are pirates and they have skull and cross bones to show that's what they are. They put Tardis in a net and Dr Who cannot dematerialise.

"Dr Who began to realise what must have happened. The men outside had indeed caught Tardis in a net, some form of force-barrier net or one that emitted charged particles."

Charged particles, eh? That sounds like science stuff to me and I don't understand it. All I know is Dr Who cannot escape in Tardis so he will have to have an adventure. The mannys take Tardis to their base.

"Now he could see that Tardis was inside what must surely be the underwater lair of the pirates."

If they have a "lair" then surely they are baddys? Dr Who sees three more pirates on his scanner.

"One was small and round, with podgy hands that continually fluttered to his face as if to hide the awful scar on one cheek. The second was a thin-faced serpent of a man, with restless eyes. But the most striking of the trio was a magnificent specimen, tall and graceful, dressed in a flamboyant one-piece costume of gold-leaf, and with one half of his left ear shot away.
"The pirate chief himself!" murmured Dr Who. "Well, I had better go out and make his acquaintance!""

None of these mannys have names in this story, not even the "magnificent specimen." Maybe he is called Avon? He sounds like an Avon to me.

This story is 10 pages long and it is page 4 before Dr Who leaves Tardis. Dr Who meets the leader (who I assert is called Avon really).

"Dr Who offered him a smile, but it fell on stony ground. "Well, since you seem to have - er - netted my ship, I am hardly in any position to offer resistance, am I, eh?"
The man in gold came round the table. He moved with a grace and poise that Dr Who could not help admiring, but on closer inspection there was a cruel set to his lips and his eyes were like ice-blue chips."

It seems there is sexual tension in the room already, purr. Avon asks Dr Who about Tardis.

"Dr Who sighed inwardly. It was his recurring problem how to explain that this simple-looking wooden box, with its flashing blue lamp on top, was in reality a craft which, resolved into a looser pattern of atoms and electrons, could be transferred instantaneously to any point in space and at any moment in time.
Lamely he said: "I am a traveller - in space and time.... My Tardis happened to materialise at the bottom of the sea, and your men apparently mistook it for some sort of treasure chest.""

Avon wants to see inside Tardis, but Dr Who quickly thinks up a plan - he claims the lock is broken and he needs a tool to fix it before anyone can go inside.

""Yes, I need one special tool. Have you a Renticular Celluprime, Number Two?"
It sounded splendid, tripping off his tongue like that. But he had no more idea what it mean than had the pirates. He had made the name up on the spur of the moment."

Avon is fooled, and decides to take Dr Who with them when he and his pirates go on their next beaucoup mish. They are going to rescue pirates who got captured by some other mannys, and they can look for the made up tool for Dr Who at the same time.

""Somewhere up top there they've got Vark and Gramz and half a dozen of our men.""

Vark and Gramz are the only pirates who have names in this story, and neither of them actually appear! Dr Who is taken to a "sea-scooter" to ride with two pirates on their mission.

They get to where they are going and then quickly go ashore.

"There were Landlubber guards everywhere - tall ramrod figures in blue toga-like uniforms and feathered helmets."

They sound quite silly-looking but, more importantly, do they call themselves "Landlubbers?" The pirates have "stun-guns" that make whoever they shoot stand still like statues. Dr Who sees a lot of frozen guards before they find a store-room with lots of tools in it. The pirates look for a Renticular Celluprime, Number Two but can't find one.

"Dr Who edged towards the door. Suddenly he spotted a Landlubber guard creeping towards the pirates. Fortunately both men were too intent on Dr Who to notice the enemy's approach."

The Landlubber stuns the pirates and Dr Who runs away. Things get very exciting as the building blows up behind him and falls down (for no readily explained reason), with Dr Who getting back to the sea-scooter and making it work just in the nick of time.

The sea-scooter takes Dr Who back to the pirates' lair once he figures out how to work a homing device.

"The whole base seemed deserted. Apparently most of the pirates had gone to the Shore. But somewhere, Dr Who knew, there must be a guard or two knocking about."

Dr Who gets back to Tardis, but then he is seen by a guard who points a ray gun at him. Clever old Dr Who still has tricks to play.

""It is all right, my friend," he said, forcing a smile. "We found the right tool.... Ask your Chief - he's right behind you."
It was an old trick; but on this planet, perhaps, it was a new one. At any rate it worked."

Dr Who gets inside Tardis and escapes.

"Then the screen showed only the grey of the intra-dimensional flux. Dr Who could not repress a cheer.
"Everything is all right again!" he smiled, locking the controls and mopping his brow. "But this must definitely be a lesson to me. I should never go anywhere without a Renticular Celluprime, Number Two!""

That is the punchline that signals the end of this story. I am left wondering if the "intra-dimensional flux" is grey because Dr Who only has a black-and-white TV? And will Avon the Pirate Chief be appearing in any more stories?

This is a fluffy, enjoyable story but full of silly bits as I hope I have shown. I like fabulous pirates and I will be a happy cat if the other stories in this book manage to be as good as this one.

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